Highlights from our October

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Several times throughout the end of September and October I thought about blogging. We had a few priceless moments that I said, "This HAS to get blogged" BUT, by the time I got a chance to blog it, the moment had past. So, rather than doing a monthly update on Benjamin (he hasn't changed THAT much), I thought I'd give highlights of what happened this last month. (This may also give you a clue as to why I've been unable to blog ...) :) The weekend of September 23rd the kids went to the GR Children's Museum with my parents. Steve and I were able to use my Uncle Ron's tickets to head to the U of M game. We had AWESOME seats on the 45 yard line just about 10 rows up. It was an amazing game .. and the kids had a great time with Grandpa and Grandma.

















  We had a great weekend on the last week of September, just hanging out at home. On Saturday morning, we went over to the nature preserve. Steve brought the camera and we snapped a few of the kiddos, just having a great time.





























The following weekend we had Auntie Sarah over for dinner/hanging out. We ended up going out to ice cream after a bike ride and time at the park.










While Daddy was at CEA, Mommy and the kids went into Grand Rapids to hang out with Auntie Alaina and Ryan who were here for Ryan's upcoming birthday! It was SO GREAT to see them after a month of being gone. On Friday, we drove in for Ryan's party at Crazy Bounce in Holland. It was a spectacularly fun evening ... so fun, that, well, Mommy had a little problem with her pants!!



















That same Saturday, Steve left to go to the ColorBurst ride in the Lowell area and I went back to Kalamazoo to coach the first of my two scheduled Volleyball tournaments. The kids stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Creswell and went to Post Family Farm with Auntie, Uncle Dan and Ryan for the annual pumpkin selection (and homemade donut consumption) afternoon.






















This past week was JAM packed. I took the kids to Grand Rapids to had a little catch up chat with my childhood friend, Suzanne; we had Alexa over for a couple of hours that day too. We had dinner with the staff at KCHS. On Tuesday, I had a game in Delton in the afternoon. Wednesday we had a crazy fun SPIRIT practice at KCMS. The girls were incredible; they were so competitive and yet so encouraging to each other. It might have been my BEST spirit practice yet.







Thursday of last week we had our last volleyball game, right AFTER Kayleigh had her first FIELD TRIP! K went to an apple orchard and cider mill with her class. It was 40 degrees and rainy but that did not dampen Kayleigh's enthusiasm for picking apples. She was so ready to pick apples, learn about cider making, and ride the hayride.










On Friday, we packed up our stuff and headed North to Mackinaw City. It was time for the race on Mackinac Island. We had a few snags over the weekend (including a blown tire on the way there). All in all, though, it was a beautiful day spent with lots of family. Steve and I ran a great race (for us), and we were SO SO thankful for Auntie Sarah who sat this one out so that we could run it.



















We still have some exciting events on the October calendar: Alexa's Birthday Party, Trick or treating, and soon after October wraps up, Kayleigh will be turning 3!!! (Not to mention Daddy's 31st birthday party, Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the "holiday" season!!!) AHH ... Life just never slows down, does it? :)













Father's Day 2011

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I can't believe how much has changed in our house since last Father's Day. Our kids are in such a different place in life; Steve and I are in a different place ... Last Father's Day, Benjamin was still a "newborn," and Kayleigh was just 4 months passed learning to walk. She had a constant pacifier and still wore diapers. This Father's Day was unique for us. We weren't able to coordinate our schedule with my brother, Alaina and Ryan to do something with my Dad (it's next weekend). And Steve's dad is in Costa Rica (like he is every Father's Day). So, we had entire day to focus only on Steve. And you know what? We had a blast. Here's how we decided to "spoil" him: * Benner and Kay slept until 8:15 (That's a new record for both of them!!) so we all got plenty of rest * K, B, and I did Daddy's "drive thru" breakfast (He's not a big breakfast guy but there are a few things he likes) and got him a donut from Sweetwater's and a coffee at Starbucks while he stayed in bed a LITTLE extra * While B napped we set up the swimmin' pool, water table, and dried off of the swingset for a little backyard oasis. (Picture highlights below) *After fun in the sun, we came in for lunch and a WHOLE FAMILY NAP (from 1:00 - 4:00 ish). * While Daddy cleaned up for dinner, the kids finished up their Father's Day cards (Ben's coloring was pretty priceless; it was his first real art project) * We headed to Kohl's to let him pick out (seriously, he prefers this as I usually pick the wrong stuff) his new Father's Day dress shirts and then it was off to Texas Roadhouse for dinner

Highlights of the Day: Benjamin's squeals and screams as he played outside with all of his favorite outside toys Kayleigh singing (all the way to Kohl's and Texas Roadhouse) her special rendition of "Happy Father's Day to you ..." (to the tune of Happy Birthday) The kids being as GOOD AS GOLD at the restaurant, forcing our waitress to call us "her favorite table." (Mostly because Benjamin was just too charming for words.

We are so blessed to have Steve as the head of our household. He's a caring, giving man who loves his wife and his children more than anything else in this world. Thanks for being such a great Daddy, Steve!! They're amazing kids ...

[caption id="attachment_1163" align="aligncenter" width="717" caption="Daddy's favorite boy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1164" align="aligncenter" width="717" caption="Daddy's precious girl"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1165" align="aligncenter" width="717" caption="Daddy and his blondies"][/caption]

Detroit Adventure Part 1

by Kristi Van Dyk in

So, here I sit, with only the iPad for entertainment; Kayleigh is all aflutter as she's staring at "all of the cars." (Her way of describing the breathtaking view that we have out of the window of our hotel room.) My infant son is snoring in the closet on the other side of the bed. Steve is tolerating (rather well, considering our evening) Kayleigh's incessant chatter very late at night as he tries to snuggle her into silence. And so, I have a few moments to reflect on why on earth we take ridiculous trips like this... Why is sharing one hotel room with two small children in a busy city worthwhile? Wouldn't it have been easier to stay at home? We always end trips asking ourselves those exact questions ... But we always take them anyway when the opportunity arises.

On the car ride down, I started making notes on my notepad ... Little things the kids said or did that made all of the packing, the sleeplessness, the travel worthwhile ... It's a good thing I did because we were met with disaster immediately upon arrival.

I actually don't even want to waste my breath explaining all that went on. I'd rather just focus on the things that, thus far, have made it a pleasure.

Exhibit A: We had barely been in the car more than 10 minutes and Kayleigh, ever our daughter, said, "Mommy? I probably need my iPod now so I can watch my Mickey movies and play Angry Birds." 1.5 hours later, we piled back in the car after a rest stop and were barely back on the highway before the same question came out again. She needs to be plugged in, even if it's not Mickey Mouse or movies, it's something to do with her hands ... Buttons to push. She even told me once that she was texting Daddy while he was driving!

Exhibit B: During our dinner at Wendy's, Benjamin, began chuckling at something. We followed his gaze and discovered, it was a clover hanging from the ceiling. This small clover captivated him so thoroughly that he was simply roaring with laughter by the end of our dinner. To add to our noisemaking hilarity, Kayleigh began to rid herself of excess energy by doing laps around our table. Each time she would pass her brother he'd relapse into more peals of contagious laughter. Steve and I found ourselves completely captivated by the simple, beautiful sound of our children laughing together.

Exhibit C: Benjamin has taken to repeating everything as of late... He wants to copy all sounds! While riding in the car, Kayleigh began playing with Talking Tom. He's a cat who repeats all you say. Her favorite button is the one where he scratches the screen of the iPod and it makes a horrendous noise. Benjamin found this noise to be worth listening to and replicating. So, by they time Steve and I realized what he was doing, it was a regular part of his new "vocabulary." It's eerily similar to the Talking Tom screech... What a talented little boy we have.

Exhibit D: While Daddy was taking Kayleigh around the hotel, managing the issues we had with our reservations, Mommy played in the room with a very exhausted Benny. He was well past tired and into a slap happy stage. I was working on keeping him from melting into the screaming stage, so I made his favorite sounds (not surprisingly it's the letter "B".. Anything with a B sound sends him into solid giggles. So, I said, "Big Benny Boy" 5 times fast and the little man laughed for a minute solid. Listening to his incessant giggling made all of the annoyances of the evening sort of fade away.

And that, my friend, is just night 1... I'm excited for a fun day tomorrow at the Children's Museum. I know my kids will enjoy their day, pool or no pool... And we will look back fondly at these days someday and wish for this much closeness with the kids.

February Photos - 13, 14, 15, 16

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Yeah! So I epically failed ... It's not that I didn't think about posting a picture a day. I simply didn't do it. On the 13th, Steve and I had a special date for Valentine's Day. We ended up going to our friends, the Commerets (http://thecommeretcorner.blogspot.com) for a fantastic dinner with the Netz family, and the Scott Van Dyke family (of Kalamazoo ... we do actually have two friends who are Scott Van Dyke ...) and, obviously the Commerets. It was a great time of fellowship and just general merriment! We weren't exactly popping out the camera for that event, but, in honor of "the day of love" I'll give you a great throwback. Here's me with my Valentine (it might be one of the oldest photos of us together ... we weren't even officially dating, just friends!)

The 14th saw massive iPhone drama. I literally spent most of my day chasing down the solution to my non-functioning visual voicemail. One thing led to another and Valentine's dinner became heart shaped pizzas with my parents, the kids, Steve and his sister, Sarah. There were some fun pics from that day, so I'll let 14, 15 and 16 be from that event :) .... (I know it's sort of cheating but there hasn't been much to photograph over here since Monday ... just lots of sleeping kids!)

Kayleigh's Grandpa pulled her up and down the hill so many times ... such a labor of love that I know he enjoyed (though he might be feeling it today!)

Benner LOVED that Mommy gave him his own red velvet cupcake. (Don't worry too much, mini cupcakes ...). I'm pretty sure it was the reason he was awake the entire van ride home too ... smooth move, Kristi

Having Aunt Sarah join us was so much fun! We were all excited to see her before she flies off on vacation!

Happy Valentine's Week everyone!

February Goal Check: Plus, a new one

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Goal #1 - Reading through the Bible - I'm now in the book of Daniel. That's two more books knocked off in my goal to read through the Bible Goal #2 - Lose the Baby Weight - Lost another 4.5 lbs, short of my goal for January. BUT I've started running - a minimum of 3 times per week in addition to the elliptical each day and Pilates every other day.

Goal #3 - Enjoy being a family of 4 - CHECK! I'm loving how Benjamin is learning to eat by himself. It's making me so excited for the days when I can stop preparing 3 separate meals. He's so close :) I simply can't wait.

Goal #4 - Grow my own vegetable patch - Yeah, not much I can do right now :) ... But, I'm still researching it.

For February I'd like to do a photo challenge. I want to post one photo each day of people in my beautiful family - reminding me of how great being a family of 4 really is.

February 1

[caption id="attachment_1009" align="alignleft" width="764" caption="My two favorite boys - reading together"][/caption]

A Necessary Side-post

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I married an incredibly good man. He's going to be supremely embarrassed by this post, I know it, but I don't much care. He pursued me for a long time (most people would have given up LONG after my third or fourth cold refusal), and told me he was committed to us. Since he's a trained educator, I know kids were a part of his plans ... he made it quite clear that he definitely wanted a family. When you get the chance to watch him with our kids, you understand just how great he really is with them. Over the past week, I was able to capture just a few of the things I see in the evenings. After a long hard day at work, I admire that he comes home ready to play ... no matter what that looks like.

Of course there's Saturdays in the snow:

Bedtime Snuggles EVERY NIGHT:

Reading to the kids - (often multiple times through the same book):

And my personal favorite - sharing "what you do today" (Kayleigh's words) as soon as Daddy arrives home

Top 10 of 2010 - stolen idea

by Kristi Van Dyk in

So a blogger friend of mine, Rebecca Marcus, received a challenge from a blogger friend of hers - post your top 10 pictures of 2010. I thought it sounded like a fun challenge. So, here I go, in reverse order #10. Cousins Christmas - I love my family - all of them ... and the "Cousins" Christmas picture is a tradition at least 28 years running (I have evidence of one with Justin and I when I'm just 1 year old). Passing it on the to cousins' kids, who still manage to make a point to get together no matter how difficult, is super special. So, here's a copy I had of the Badeau Cousins' Kids Christmas: (from L to R: Benjamin Van Dyk, Kayleigh Van Dyk, Kirsten Nichols, Zoe Scott, Rachelle Nichols, Andrew Nichols and Jonathan Nichols ... just outside camera range: Ryan Creswell)

9. The Kids Love the iPad - During a tornado warning - mid day in the fall - the kids went to the basement with both kitties. I needed something to keep them occupied for an extended period of time while I watched the weather on the tv. As the toys ran dry, I pulled out Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad. The kids, snuggling together with the iPad, is representative of our 2010 for several reasons - K's growing obsession with Mickey and the fact that nothing brings my kids together like watching a little tv. :)

8. Food Attacks Benjamin - Our friend, Cabeto, titled this picture for us. He lives in Costa Rica and gets pictures through my father-in-law (and from my facebook). He mostly sees pictures of (as he says it), "Ben-yamin (spelled as he pronounces it and is SO sweet), I always see you getting attacked by food!"  So, here is our boy, doing what our boy does better than any baby I ever saw .. EAT!!! It describes him now as well because he refuses bottles in favor of any solid food. So, to our eater, Benjamin:

7. Cousin's Playdates I have a bunch of cute pictures of our kids with their cousin, Ryan, on playdates. BUT throughout 2010 this is the only one I have of all 3 of them together. We ended up putting them together to capture the Maranatha tie-dye onesies that Mom and I made during our week at Maranatha. So, though the kids aren't particularly "Active" in this picture, it's the best of all three of them and reminds me of all the blessings Thursdays with Ryan bring.

6. Benjamin's Miles of Smiles We had formal pictures taken in the fall in order to get a surprise Christmas present for Grammy Creswell. Kristen Worst from Tsakani Studios took them for us (she had done our family photos in July as well). She was super patient with all three kids, who had a collective ROTTEN day. BUT, right at the beginning Benjamin was whipping off the smiles. She caught about 5 in a row that were just fantastic. Here's my favorite:

5. The Waves with Grammy - Over Labor Day weekend we hit both family "getaways." Each time we took a few photos, and, from that weekend, three are on the top 10 list. Steve did a fantastic job of shooting special moments. This one reminds me of Maranatha, which was, my refuge this summer. I spent two full weeks there and several other day/evening trips in order to have help with the kids while Steve put in long hours at work. Kayleigh loved her time there, especially at the beach ... Steve is tempted to enter this one in a photo contest. It's so beautiful.

4. Benny and Grandpa - This is another one of the "Labor Day Cottage Tour" pictures. It's beautiful because they are both so unaware. But it also captures how thoroughly the two have bonded. I don't know if it was the week when Benjamin screamed for hours straight and Grandpa took him for walks, or if it is their uncanny similarities in behavior. Both Grandpa C and Benny are largely content wherever they are. They love watching what's going on around them, but don't have to be part of the action to enjoy it. "Being" is simply enough for both of them and I think that's what makes Grandpa C gravitate to Ben so quickly ... I adore this photo ...

3. Our Little Model - Steve took this photo at the Frederick Meijer Gardens in their Children's Garden. Kayleigh went with Great Grandpa Van Dyk as his "birthday" present from our kids. Kayleigh ADORED walking the grounds with him, and taking him by the hand around to everything that was fun for her. We mostly snapped pictures of the special time the two were able to have. It's especially sweet because Kayleigh is named for her Great Grandma Van Dyk. Harriet Elaine (though she went by Elaine only) was diagnosed with cancer while we were early pregnant with K. As  Elaine's condition grew worse, Steve and I were more and more convinced that our little girl needed to bear her name. Elaine fought long and hard and managed to meet her great granddaughter before she went home to be with her Lord. Nevertheless, each time we see Great Grandpa with his little buddy Kayleigh Elaine, we think of Great Grandma. Here's our Kayleigh Elaine on her date with Great Grandpa

2. Benjamin views the Lake - This picture took our breath away when we first uploaded it. It has captured my attention each time I sneak past it in a photo search. Benjamin is searching the lake and the camera lens caught the lake reflected in his gorgeous blue eyes. Steve's favorite place in the world is his parents' cottage. I know it means the world to him when the kids are able to go there and enjoy themselves. So, for Ben to be enjoying himself so much at his Daddy's favorite place ... it's the stuff a mother loves to see.

1. Family Togetherness - I didn't think my top 10 would be complete without something breathtaking of the two kids together. BUT since the BEST photo of the two of them that I have is from their bath time ... I figured I'd have to get back to the drawing board. Posting naked baby photos, however innocently intended, is NOT a smart idea (as my husband reminds me continuously). Therefore, I selected this photo, from Christmas Eve. It contains my 3 favorite people in the whole wide world and they're all together, happily. Thanks God, for this amazing year, and this amazing little family.

Happy New Year, friends ... from Steve, Kristi, Kayleigh and Benjamin Van Dyk!

Family Nights ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Last week was the start of our "family nights." Daddy works from approximately 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and then, after the kids are in bed, works more from home (usually until about 10:00). So, finding time when we are all stress free to spend time together is pretty difficult. Steve stole my iPhone a week ago and blocked off days on both of our schedules for some "family night." This includes: making a meal together, eating together, and doing something fun as a foursome. NO iPhones, computers, or technology (unless it's Mickey Mouse watching) allowed. The first night was supposed to be personal pizzas and pumpkin carving. As it would happen the kids really only had the attention span/energy level for one. So, we did pizza making on Wednesday and pumpkin carving on Thursday. Here are some pictures highlights for the memory books: [caption id="attachment_863" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Watching Daddy intently"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Taking time to chat"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_865" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Sneaking a little cheese"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_866" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Like Father .. Like Daughter"][/caption]

Pumpkin carving was a little more of a Daddy/Daughter Date. Mommy had to take Benjamin to urgent appointment hours at the pediatrician and then run to Meijer pharmacy to pick up his amoxicillin for the ear infection. So, I missed Kayleigh's first pumpkin carving experience. Fortunately, Steve took some great photos, and Kayleigh had lots to tell me about it. Most commonly heard, "Momma? K's pumpkin is REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY ICKY!!!! REALLY ICKY pumpkin!" But I also heard, "Momma? Daddy make kitty in my pumpkin ..." (It has a cat carved from a stencil .... nice work, Steve!)

[caption id="attachment_867" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption=""This is MINE book for pumpkins!""][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_868" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption=""K do it, K do it, Daddy!""][/caption]

Photographer Mommy vs. Photographer Daddy

by Kristi Van Dyk in

In the last week both Mommy and Daddy took pictures of Kayleigh in the bath tub. Both are adorable in their own way. But what I find humorous is not so much Kayleigh in the pictures as to the moments Mommy and Daddy choose to capture. Let me give you examples. You can label which picture belongs to which photographer. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll Ace this quiz if you know ANYTHING about us at all :). (No pressure or anything) :) [caption id="attachment_801" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Name that Photographer #1"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_802" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Name that Photographer #2"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_803" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Name the Photographer #3"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_804" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Name that Photographer #4"][/caption]

Our Little Greeter

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Kayleigh loves people. She has loved people since she was old enough to smile. Today, her welcoming of people takes on a different form. She's so much more verbal that it's just hilarious to be around her. This past week she sat at the door waiting for: Daddy, Aunts Sarah and Maria, and Robin. As soon as she grasps that were having a visitor, she sits at the screen door, watching the street. Each car that comes by brings her cheerful voice, "Momma!!! I see car!!! I see car!!!" When it passes by she says, "Oh different car coming ... different car for ____" When the car arrives, well, just watch and see. It's excitement in its purest form followed by a straight sprint "Runnin' ... Runnin' fast!" towards the back door, through the breezeway, and out to the driveway where she almost always realizes, "Oh ... no shoes, Momma, No shoes on!!" Here she is waiting for her aunties to come:

Here's her waiting for her Daddy to come home from work: 9-29 Waiting for Daddy

Ikea Spontaneity

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Steve doesn't like things to remain the same for very long ... especially when it's our living room arrangement. So, last week when he came up with another "new idea" I rolled my eyes. The more I thought about it, though, the more I liked the idea. It gave us more furniture for "living" in the basement play area. It gave us more space for "living" in the main floor living room. So, to make this plan work (in one weekend because I didn't want my house torn up for more than that length of time), we needed an Ikea chair. So ... to Ikea we went (with the kiddos at Sarah's house ... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!). As is typical, we didn't leave Ikea with ONLY the items we planned on. We opportunity power shopped.  (we only had 45 minutes after we made the drive) We came away with the planned signature Ikea recliner, a matching one for the baby girl, a wooden block play toy, a plastic wall mount bag holder, and some wrapping paper. As soon as Kayleigh awoke this morning she was all over her new goods ... She beat us out of bed and to her toys before we even knew what hit us ... After that she enjoyed helping Daddy reassemble our stored coffee table. All in all, a very successful (if exhausting for everyone) trip.

[caption id="attachment_732" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Kayleigh and Daddy in their matching chairs"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_733" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Chair + toy = $38 ... Kayleigh's enjoyment - priceless"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_734" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Helping Daddy assemble the goodies"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_735" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption=""Daddy, this is screwdriver ..." "][/caption]

Benjamin's First Michigan Game

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Benny didn't really watch the first game in U of M's season. I seem to recall him napping through it. However, today he was awake and ready to watch with Daddy. Here are my boys, enjoying the game. (Kayleigh was taking a late nap). He's a little groggy, and a little shell shocked, but we think he's adorable :) Go BLUE!

[caption id="attachment_651" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Go Blue"][/caption]

Daddy's Little Princess

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Steve likes to talk the tough line; he likes to think that his little girl doesn't have him completely under her thumb. He often tells me that I'm "too easy on her." So, I laughed when he came home from the store the other day. It's been a busy summer for Steve, with Ben's arrival, with work, with family gatherings, he just hasn't had the time to be alone with Kayleigh. She's sensed it and really missed him. BUT, today, we had another free Saturday. We were going to clean the house (like big time rearranging, disposal of extra stuff, etc) but the kids had plenty of other plans. So, after Kayleigh's 2.5 hour morning nap, she went "out" with Daddy. Steve left me with a sleeping Ben (who ended up sleeping 3 straight hours, the entire time they were gone), and claimed he was shopping for a Michigan sleeper for Ben. (All of the ones we had from Kayleigh were gender neutral, but are also stained and spitty; Ben deserves his own). ANYWAY, they were going to get a sleeper for Ben and more ice cream. Here's what they returned with:

Ben's onesie (plus a long sleeved that he's wearing in a subsequent post):

[caption id="attachment_646" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Ben's gifts from Daddy"][/caption]

Kayleigh's presents from Daddy: (Keep in mind these are all from different stores!!! 3 different stores; 3 different gifts ... Yeah Steve, I'm the softy...)

[caption id="attachment_647" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Mickey Mouse dinnerware, Mickey Mouse coloring book with crayons, and many many barrettes ...K's new love"][/caption]

It's a good thing she hasn't decided she wants another kitty ... :) Mommy wouldn't mind, but Andre might be upset.

Labor Day Cottage Tour - Day 2

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Ahh, the final day of summer ... such a bittersweet day. It was raining most of our day at Maranatha, but we did manage to have some great family time, nonetheless. We arrived around 11:00 and the kids had lunch/settled in. Both napped fairly well until around 4:00 p.m. At 4, we were able to hit the beach (after Steve and I had had time to walk the grounds and get some of the beautiful breeze of the cloudy lakefront) for some playground time. It was a wonderfully refreshing afternoon. Grandpa got some great snuggle time in with Benjamin (who thoroughly enjoyed his time with Grandpa). Kayleigh got some great time with Grammy ... It was a wonderfully relaxing day, even if there wasn't much sun. Here are my favs from today's "photo shoot":

Kayleigh's Highlights:

[caption id="attachment_618" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Feelin' the breeze at the playset"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_619" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="See Thunder"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_620" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Checking out the waves with Grammy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_621" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="So Beautiful ... "][/caption]

Benjamin's Highlights:

[caption id="attachment_622" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="At the beach with Grandpa"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_623" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="So Sweet!"][/caption]

And with that the Summer of 2010 leaves us. It was sad to see so few people on the beach at Maranatha, all of the apartments emptied, the lodge completely silent ... We watched plenty of residents loading up all kinds of summer bags into their cars for the drive home.  It was so sad ... but exciting for the new season upon us.

Thanks for a great summer, family and friends :) P.S. These photos (and the photos from LDCT- Day 1) were all taken masterfully by my husband, Steve. All credits should be going to him :).

We've got personality ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Both Kayleigh and Benjamin have so much personality at such a young age. I don't consider myself to be super wacky (although I definitely have my moments). So, I often wonder where they came up with the wackiness ...  then I pull up images in my mind like this: Or perhaps this:

Either way, it's clear that their silly craziness comes from their Daddy ... Some proof? No problem:

Kayleigh imitating her father by sitting at the table, alternating whether she's drinking Pepsi or Mt. Dew (all empty cans she pulled from the recycle!) ... I personally love the tip back the head to drain the last drops, I see him do that CONSTANTLY! Benjamin just started pulling his stunts today. He was in the exersaucer, sitting between Kayleigh and Mommy, while we ate lunch. He didn't know who to focus on so, he nearly made himself dizzy switching from Kayleigh to Mommy to Kayleigh to Mommy, etc. :) It was good for a laugh. Video won't upload, but I'll work on it for a later post.

In short, as silly as they are, at the end of the day, they love each other. See picture snapped THROUGH the stroller screens. Ben is chilling and Kayleigh is making sure his paci stays in place, just holding it there while she relaxes. :) I love watching them work together ... it makes me so proud.

Kayleigh's Love Affair Complete

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Well, it was only a few hours after I finished writing the previous blog post that the playset was completely assembled. However, it was too dark to take pictures, and the little princess had been sleeping for at least an hour. So, her joy at the rest of the project would have to wait until morning. Daddy left for work SUPER early (like 4:00 a.m.), but he came home for about 30 minutes at 8:00, when Kayleigh wakes up. He wanted to be able to show her the playset and be there for the initial playtime. She was unbelievably excited and alternated her attention between the slide and the swing, slide and the swing ... pretty sure that during Benny's afternoon nap that will be calling as well ... "Mommy, slide, Mommy, swing ..." At one point she noticed the other attachments and started "driving." Steve wanted to get her down the slide at least one more time before he had to go back to work, but she wasn't interested at the time. "Daddy, I'm drivin'!" At the rate she's growing, I'm sure she will be, before I know it. Sigh ... oh Kayleigh.

[caption id="attachment_566" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Inaugural swing ride"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_567" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Sheer Joy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_568" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="I'm Drivin'"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_569" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Livin' the dream"][/caption]

I'm sure there will be yet another blog post because my husband is NOT finished with this project yet. He has drawings littering the dining room table detailing a perimeter enclosure around the playset as well as a sandbox (most likely below the tree-house area). There is a canopy that attaches to the top as well, but that wasn't critical to play time, so it will get up when it gets up.

Thanks Linda for the playset :) We love it!!!

P.S. During my laundry work this morning, I took both kids out to play. Kayleigh was IMMEDIATELY on the playset sliding and Benny watched in the Bumbo. After I got done hanging the diapers, I let him have a shot at the swing. The result? Kayleigh fell to her news, screaming and crying, "NOOOOOO SWING BENNY!!! BENNY NO SWING!!!" I tried to tell her it was okay to share and that sharing was good, and important and that we really planned on buying them both their own swing we just hadn't yet. Her curt reply, "No share. Car ride ... Myhers (how she pronounces Meijers). New Benny swing. Come on, Mommy. Ready, Set, GO!" I laughed so hard!!! As a concession to the fact that she DID, after much scolding, share with her brother, we went to Lowe's to buy an additional swing. Now I can push them both at the same time. :) AHH the life :)

Kayleigh's Love Affair

by Kristi Van Dyk in

No, we aren't encouraging anything in appropriate at nearly 2 years old. ... My daughter LOVES, LOVES, LOVES slides and swings. We seriously spend nearly 3 evenings a week walking to the park, playing for 20-30 minutes and walking home. She could NEVER get enough time on the swings and the slide. Now, I'm not saying our new "equipment" will replace trips to the park, BUT when Benny's sleeping and we can't leave ... we have in-home entertainment! Kayleigh COULD NOT be more excited. It all came about very quickly. My mom had offered, in the spring, to buy us play equipment for the backyard. We weren't thinking we wanted a HUGE playset (very expensive), and it seemed silly to pay $250 for a tiny plastic one. So, we sort of held off, waiting for the right time. ENTER: Linda Dahnke, high school principal ... looking to clear out her daughter's old playset. Price: FREE for the taking. Well, we can do that!!!

SOO on Saturday (our only UNSCHEDULED Saturday all summer), Steve begins to disassemble the playset, hauling it over in pieces in the van. Nearly 6 hours later (minus time for a quick supper), the playset is in pieces in the backyard. It's now Sunday, nearly 9:00 p.m. as I write this, and the playset is ALMOST assembled. Today's total work time: nearly 7 hours and 2 trips to Lowe's. BUT it just might be done, rendering Kayleigh and I 2 of the happiest people on the planet come time for Benny's late nap tomorrow.  As soon as the slide was up, Kayleigh HAD to try it ... so, here are a few preliminary snapshots :)

[caption id="attachment_558" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Trying to help Daddy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_559" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Halfway constructed"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_560" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="On top of the world"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_561" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Letting her go"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_562" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Thank You Daddy!"][/caption]

Thanks babe for all of the time you put into it. I know Kayleigh's smiles and screams (for several years to come) will make it worth it, but thanks for her for now. We love you!

Mandatory Time Away

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I don't like leaving my children. I'm serious; I hate it. It makes me anxious; it frustrates me, and I usually end up having more "issues" to deal with when I come home. It's so much easier to just keep them with me ... BUT 24/7 motherhood is tiring! There are simple pleasures that I've lost in my life. I don't really miss them, but it's nice to remember what they are like. So, Steve did just about the only thing I'd listen to ... he forced me out of the house. This past Saturday is the first Saturday we have had NOTHING on the calendar since early May. Yup, I'm not exaggerating, it's always something. So, Steve told me I was (a) getting my haircut (I've been whining about how long it was for nearly a month now) (b) getting coffee somewhere and (c) spending at least two hours out of the house doing anything of my choosing. He told me this on Tuesday, and I've looked forward to the solitude all week. In addition to the solitude, I was awarded no getting up with Benjamin at 6:00 a.m. (which actually was 4:00 a.m. since he decided he needed a little snack, just 2 oz, in the middle of the night), a shower without having to arrange distractions for the kids, and THEN my morning away.

So, I left the house ready to get a haircut (at Great Clips, I'm not picky), but it didn't open until 9:00 a.m. (I never even considered this because I felt like I had slept so late! 7:45 a.m. is sleeping in!) So, I walked around Kohl's, then got my haircut. Then I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up The Hunger Games, a book I'd been dying to read, recommended by my sister-in-law, Alaina. I also got Eat, Pray, Love while I was there because before it became a movie I had wanted to pick it up. Now, before I see it, I will read it :). Then, I had planned to grab a coffee at B&N and read there. BUT it was far too beautiful outside (and the a/c FAR TOO HIGH) for that. So, I snagged a cheap McCafe coffee and drove to the Celery Flats where I sat on a partially shaded picnic bench overlooking the fountains and the playground. I got through the first 3 chapters of Hunger Games, enough to become completely engrossed in the plot, and then my phone alarm went off. Time to return to the family. I grabbed Steve a peace offering, assuming the kids had torn him apart, and headed home. When I walked in the door my baby girl SQUEALED and SCREAMED, "MAMA!! Color, sit, color with Kayleigh. Dadda color. Momma color. Benny color. COLOR." So, with her strawberry covered, ear to ear grin, she literally had me at hello. I smiled, kissed everyone, and resumed what I love doing, spending time with my kids and my husband.

One hour of reading in the sunlight and quiet though, does a body good :).

Our First Campfire

by Kristi Van Dyk in

My husband loves campfires. From the time we met, the greatest summer evenings were spent drinking a beer/Mt. Dew, staring at the lake, and playing with fire. I think it was that reason (plus the two jobs/kids that kept him from the lake as often as he'd like) that he decided to build us our own fire pit. He's been hoping we could get the kids to bed and head out to stare at fire for several weeks now. It simply hasn't worked out that way ... usually because we both have to get up in the morning. Well, tonight we decided to have an outdoor dinner. We had extra helping hands for supper (Bri Bri), so it made it that much more possible to try an outside dinner with the babies. When Steve got home, he grilled up some brats. I set the inside kitchenette table with strawberries, blueberries, chips, buns and condiments. We had some raspberry lemonade and all the goodies for S'mores. We were set. Kayleigh and Bri played with the Mickey Mouse ball in the backyard, blew some bubbles, and ate some Cheez-Its (mostly Kayleigh ate the Cheez-its and Bri taught her some soccer tricks). It was a little chaotic, especially since when it came time to roasting marshmallows, but we had a fun evening. Note: S'Mores proved just too "ucky" for Kayleigh ... she basically had two or three licks of the marshmallow and that was it for her. But she liked all of the ingredients, but none of them all put together.

Here's a few highlights from our first campfire

[caption id="attachment_530" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Cheez-Its, Bubbles, and Big Sis Bri ... "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_531" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Benjamin chillin' by the girls"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_532" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Playing with Bri Bri"][/caption]

The Many Faces of Benjamin Steven ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

[caption id="attachment_516" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Mid-sentence"][/caption] Our little boy can be so mellow. He just enjoys being with people ... and that makes him easy to take places. However, when he is uncomfortable or distressed you have a VERY limited amount of time to correct the problem. As soon as he snaps, he snaps FULL FORCE! He, very early in life, found the upper register squeal. It is MOST effective in getting Mommy's immediate attention. He doesn't use it OFTEN, but he has learned that when he's had enough, it gets him results. It's not only the crying, though, Benjamin has VERY VERY vivid facial expressions. See here some of the faces we snapped in our picture taking frenzies.

[caption id="attachment_515" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Daddy is funny!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_517" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="You want to do WHAT??!!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_518" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="I DON'T think that's happening"][/caption]

More often than not, we see Benjamin with his million dollar smile. This smile is accentuated by his single dimple! I never thought about it while pregnant, but it would stand to reason that at least one of our babies would inherit their father's single dimple. It's entirely appropriate that it's his namesake, Benjamin Steven. Here are both of my boys, happy together.

[caption id="attachment_519" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Happy with Daddy"][/caption]